A gallop through English myth

John Gardner, 1917-2011 The Ballad of the White Horse by John Gardner. Hilary Davan Wetton conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra, City of London Choir and Paulina Voices, with Ashley Riches, baritone. EMR CD057 STUART MILLSON relishes a forgotten folkish treat In the late 1950s, the English composer, John Gardner (1917-2011) – one of many forgotten…

Auntie’s anti-conservatism

ALEX PUGH suggests some reasons why the BBC is so leftwing I first worked in the BBC in 1981 in its Birmingham Pebble Mill studio. I well recall its large bar, where I sometimes drank with a middle-aged producer. One day, a Cheltenham MP named Charles Irving was in the news. This producer said to…

Un-easy listening

DEREK TURNER tries translating Lingua Ignota Radio 6 is one of the rare good things about the BBC, championing alternative, independent or overlooked pop and rock from the 1950s up to the present. On any evening of any week, you can hear anything from film scores to 1960s psychedelia, prog rock to trip-hop, industrial to…

Why Milton matters

Gustave Dore illustration for Paradise Lost BARRY SPURR rides to the rescue of the blind visionary When the Oxford philosopher, Isaiah Berlin, was at St Paul’s School in London, in the 1920s, John Milton’s 200-line pastoral elegy, ‘Lycidas’, was set for learning by heart by the boys. Decades later, when Berlin visited the newly-established Wolfson…

Medusa’s hair

Head of Medusa, by Peter Paul Rubens, 1610 SYDNEY LORD finds a metaphor for cancel culture in mythology Medusa, with her famous hair of writhing snakes, has had many metamorphoses over the centuries – so many the Greeks and Romans stopped counting. After World War II, some feminist activists – which I call ‘femocrats’- used…

Three poems by Josephine Balmer

JOSEPHINE BALMER’s recent collection, The Paths of Survival (Shearsman),was short-listed for the 2017 London Hellenic Prize. Other works include Letting Go (Agenda Editions, 2017), The Word for Sorrow (Salt, 2007), Chasing Catullus (Bloodaxe, 2004), Catullus: Poems of Love and Hate (2004) and Classical Women Poets (1996). Her translations of Sappho were recently reissued in an…